Cox, Discovery Reach HD Accord

Cox Communications, Inc. and Discovery Communications have reached an agreement under which the cable operator will launch four high-definition services.

Under the deal, terms of which were not disclosed, Cox will roll out HD versions of Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal and The Science Channel. Launch decisions will be made on a market-by-market basis, according to the parties.

There was no immediate time frame as to when the individual HD channels would bow on Cox systems, according to a Discovery spokeswoman. The Silver Spring, Md.-headquartered content company's Discovery HD Theater compilation service is already available on Cox, as well as myriad other carriers.

The deal with the Atlanta-based cable operator represents Discovery’s third for its suite of HD services. The enhanced versions of the four networks have launched on EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network. Discovery also has an affiliate accord with DirecTV for the four channels, according to the spokeswoman, but the top DBS provider has yet to launch them, as well as other services as part of its much-ballyhooed HD rollout.

“This agreement for HD launches of Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and The Science Channel is a thrilling development for our customers. The programs featured on these channels are ideally suited for delivery in high definition,” said Cox Communications president Pat Esser in a statement. “As our customers’ appetites for HD content grow, we will continue to expand our HD lineup with high-quality programming to ensure that we offer a robust selection of the best HD channels in our markets. In fact, we have dozens of new HD channels slated for launch this year.”

Added Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav: “Since launching Discovery HD Theater in 2002, interest in HD has exploded and viewers have continuously demanded more HD content from Discovery. As seen with the Emmy-award winning series, Planet Earth, Discovery’s non-fiction genres truly come alive in HD, making our channels top destinations for viewers. We are pleased to be working with our long-time partners at Cox to bring their customers HD simulcasts of Discovery’s most popular networks and to help drive greater adoption of HD services.”